Finance Market Report 2014: Netherlands
The IT function has become intrinsic to the success of practically all businesses operating in today’s technological world. Take the banking industry for example; IT underpins the whole banking system, from high street personal banking to the extremely complex trading systems used by investment banks.
The IT and Finance functions are becoming more and more closely linked, to the extent that they often overlap. It’s necessary for the IT department to have a deep understanding of finance tools, such as risk and pricing models, and for the Finance department to have a full appreciation of the issues faced by their IT colleagues.
With over 25 years of experience in the IT sector, we’ve been closely tracking this trend. Partly as a reaction to it, and partly due to client demand, we decided to introduce a dedicated Finance offer in the middle of 2013. With a mix of both IT and Finance expert consultants within the Michael Bailey Associates Finance team, we are now in the best possible position to implement innovative projects for our clients that span both fields. As a result, we have strengthened existing partnerships with a number of clients and have started to work with new ones.
Finance market review, Q1 2014
The market in the Netherlands has shown an increase in activity during the first quarter of 2014 in comparison to the fourth quarter, 2013. Growing economic confidence has meant that companies are beginning to revive projects that had previously been put on hold, and release the necessary budgets. Caution, risk aversion and cost-control are still very much in evidence with organisations ensuring that the recovery is properly underway before they make heavy commitments. Consequently, we are finding that sign off of projects and budgets is often taking some time.
EU rules and regulations are having an impact on the financial services market. Financial institutions need to make adjustments in order to comply with laws and EU directives. Key examples include Solvency II, Emir, AIFMD, Sepa and Basel III. With the EU constantly reviewing the industry, a changing regulatory landscape is something that organisations will have to cope with for the foreseeable future. This can lead to increased demand for skilled talent as compliance projects are put in place.
Another factor impacting the hiring process in the Finance sector is the focus put on making sure that project teams ‘click’ with other departments and personalities in the business. Whereas IT department heads are interested predominantly in the ‘hard skills’ of their project team, Finance heads place much more importance on criteria such as cultural fit, communication skills and personality profile. Managers in the finance department generally have more exposure to the rest of the business, and the ability to influence, inform and build relationships with key people across the business is paramount. Without the ‘softer’ skills, problems can arise, regardless of the team’s financial ‘hard’ skills if that personality fit is not there.
The Finance and Financial Services sectors are slowing gathering pace in the Netherlands as the economy starts to grow. However, companies are progressing with caution until growth has been sustained for a longer period.
Clients are also keen to avoid rushing into implementing projects to ensure that they have the time to source talented people who will compliment the organisation’s culture. They understand that personality conflicts can have an impact on the delivery and cost of a project.
Our approach of partnering with clients at a strategic level has enabled us to seamlessly introduce Finance into our services for existing clients. With a mix of IT and Finance expertise together with extensive experience putting together teams that work on a cultural level, Finance is an area we anticipate will continue to grow as we move through 2014.